Read Discontent and Its Civilizations: Dispatches from Lahore, New York, and London by Mohsin Hamid Online


In Discontent and Its Civilizations, Mohsin Hamid traces the fracture lines generated by a decade and a half of seismic change, from the "war on terror" to the struggles of individuals to maintain humanity in the rigid face of ideology, or the indifferent face of globalization. Whether he's discussing courtship rituals or pop culture, drones or the rhythms of daily life inIn Discontent and Its Civilizations, Mohsin Hamid traces the fracture lines generated by a decade and a half of seismic change, from the "war on terror" to the struggles of individuals to maintain humanity in the rigid face of ideology, or the indifferent face of globalization. Whether he's discussing courtship rituals or pop culture, drones or the rhythms of daily life in an extended family compound, he transports us beyond the alarmist headlines of an anxious West and a volatile East and helps to bring a dazzling diverse world within emotional and intellectual reach....

Title : Discontent and Its Civilizations: Dispatches from Lahore, New York, and London
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781594633652
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 240 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Discontent and Its Civilizations: Dispatches from Lahore, New York, and London Reviews

  • Trish
    2019-04-23 17:44

    This slim book of essays by Mohsin Hamid is one of the most interesting and important books per square inch of space that I have read in a very long time. I have had difficulty reading lately, with lots of distractions and changes in my own life. Hamid’s small book of nonfiction essays promised to be short, relevant, engaging, and international, like his fiction. These essays were much more than that. Hamid surprised and delighted me with his political section at the end in which he shares with us the notion of Pakistan as it is experienced from the inside: huge, populous, diverse, and multicultural. It has been so difficult over these years of conflict to gain an understanding of the place if one simply read the newspapers or watched TV commentary. Hamid assures us that Pakistan has its problems but indeed is filled, as I knew it must be, with people not so different from ourselves, who strive every day to work, raise children, and live well, if they can. In a world where tolerance is becoming increasingly hard to find, it was thrilling to find a thoughtful, educated person taking the time to tell us about an area of the world we have been bombing (with drone strikes) for the past decade and about which we have only the remotest sense. In an early essay, “In a Home for Water Lilies,” Hamid tells us he began writing essays and journalism after 9/11 when world events kept him from focusing on fiction. He wrote “a piece for an American publication about the fears of his parents and sister in Pakistan as the U.S. prepared to attack Afghanistan. The paper deleted a paragraph on reasons for the anger felt toward America in many Muslim-majority countries.” A similar piece for a British newspaper was published in its entirety.Imagine that. While this is not the first I have heard of newspaper self-censorship, it is the first time I have of heard it happening for a fiction writer rather than for secret government documents. We need this man’s voice, for he does not shirk from telling us what we need to hear: that America’s military interventions are so clumsy that they tend to create larger problems and greater resentments than they solve. We have seen this in our time, and know it in our hearts. Hamid dares to tell us how that is.Hamid has lived in and enjoyed New York, London, and Lahore. He likes them all, though his movements around the globe have given him a refreshingly clear view of each of these places and the countries in which they are rooted. His essays from the past fifteen years reprinted here recount recent history, the present, and risk imagining the future of Pakistan. It takes someone of courage to step outside his chosen field and write his conscience to address pressing issues. We may not agree with him, but the opinion of a thoughtful man is hard to dismiss.This review was going to be about other, earlier essays in his collection in which he shares his favorite books, his preference for print over eBooks, and an amusing discussion on the current crop of really very decent television serials and what that means for the future of the novel. In a very short essay called “Rereading,” Hamid makes the case that small novels with fewer pages of plot can be “electric with potential” in a way that longer, more ponderous novels cannot be—potential that readers can realize once, twice, or many times in their lifetimes, each time a little differently, depending on experiences in their own lives. Mohsin Hamid speaks to me. I mean directly to me. In “Enduring Love of the Second Person,” Hamid describes the “amazing potential of the ‘you’…You are given an active role, an invitation to create. Together.” It worked immensely well in his novel How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, and it works in his book of essays. I highly recommend this title. It is a pleasure to read an author who excites, enlightens, and educates so profoundly in so few words.

  • Faizan Ali
    2019-05-14 17:18

    Absolutely fantastic read. Although a very brief book, likely to be finished by most readers in a day or two, it is profound in the diverse topics that it covers and has personally left me with a lot to think about. It is a collection of articles written by Mohsin Hamid for various publications over a 15 year period and is divided into three sections Life, Art and Politics. My personal favourites were: "In Concert, No Touching", "On Fatherhood", "Don't Angry Me", "Pereira Transforms" and "Why They Get Pakistan Wrong". Articles such as "Pereira Transforms", "Enduring Love of the Second Person" and "Rereading" are an insight into the clear, brief writing style of Mohsin Hamid. Although I have heard him speak a couple of times at literature festivals, for the first time I understood his tendency to keep his readers engaged with the short novel form and his unique take on "the nature of the reader-writer relationship, the notion that 'you' could simultaneously be audience and character and maker." The development of his unique style he attributes to "The Fall" by Albert Camus. Overall an enjoyable read.

  • Louise
    2019-04-18 21:29

    Having been born in Pakistan and having spent the greater part of his life in the US and the UK, Mohsin Hamid is able to bridge the cultural divide. His perspective is rare and valuable. He understands the US point of view and explains how it is heard and realized in Pakistan.The essays are divided into topics of life, art and politics. In the first you learn about Hamid, his "water lily life" and how he chose to return to Pakistan. Having read this novels the essays on art were of interest. He writes of the authors who inspire him and how he writes. The essays on politics, because of the knowledge and experience behind them are the heart of the book. Repeated themes are the Pakistan-India divide, the diversity of the Pakistani population, the weakness of the Pakistani government and the effects of US policy on everyday life. I learned that there is border dispute with Afghanistan that has not been on the US radar screen despite operations in this very area. There is a description of the “deep state” in Pakistan, and it seems to operate much like ours in thwarting peace efforts.All the essays, like Hamid’s novels are short; they convey a lot and there is no need to make them longer. The dates of the works are significant and I liked that you don’t have to flip through the book to get the dates. Hamid is guardedly optimistic. Despite overpopulation, weak economies, and anticipated flooding from global warming, he sees the coming century belonging to Asia. That Pakistan has had 5 years of democratic government and wants to improve relations with India are some reasons for his optimism.The chapter “Fear and Silence” should be required reading for all high school students throughout the world.

  • Zak
    2019-04-27 17:23

    A heartfelt series of essays which have appeared before in various publications. These articles span more than a decade and encompass the years he studied and worked in New York, London and Lahore. I have read all of Hamid's fictional works before, 'Moth Smoke' and 'How To Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia' being my favourites.Here he covers a wide range of subjects in his quiet, thoughtful style, including how he approached his writing and what he aimed to achieve. An added bonus was I learnt a fair bit about Pakistan's history and its role in the US-Soviet proxy war in Afghanistan, as well as the subsequent war against terrorism post-9/11. He also provides his opinion on why and how Pakistanis and other state actors can help the country break free from its past dalliance with extremist militants, who although helpful in the past against the Soviets and the Taliban, have increasingly turned their violence and intolerance inwards against their fellow countrymen. The success of this objective is of utmost importance to the entire region due to Pakistan's status as a nuclear-armed nation.

  • Samra Muslim
    2019-05-18 17:21

    I cannot believe that I actually enjoyed reading this book - or rather collection of Hamid's previously published articles based on his life, emotions and experiences!! (I am not a fan of Mohsin Hamid's work!!) Oddly speaking, the articles narrated in the book are a good relatable read ... Atleast for me!! It's like a lot of times what Hamid is writing or feeling is exactly what I felt in that moment in my life (aka Pakistan's colourful history) !!

  • Bettie☯
    2019-05-05 19:33

    (view spoiler)[Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)]

  • Bloodorange
    2019-04-20 22:35

    I'm quite happy to have had the opportunity to read that, but out of eight essays I found best/ useful and was ready to scan, six were easily available online. Frustrating.

  • Pgchuis
    2019-04-27 22:28

    I haven't read any of Hamid's fiction, although I plan to try "The Reluctant Fundamentalist", but the premise of this book interested me. In the end, though, I was disappointed. The section dealing with his life was mildly interesting, but superficial. He identifies with Pakistan as home, but is that mostly because his family lives there? I was hoping for more cross-cultural insights. What makes one country home, even if its language is not your first language? The section on art I found dull. Finally, the section on politics suffered from being (necessarily) out of date. Although he grouped the articles and thoughts in approximate chronological order, there was no overall coherent time line and no explicit commentary on whether things he had hoped for had indeed occurred. While I am sure no one would disagree that peace in Afghanistan and peace with India are important goals, I was hampered by a lack of in depth knowledge to evaluate his views. He writes as an author living in Pakistan who has lived in the US and UK, which gives him a unique perspective, but I wonder what other "experts" would say on the topics he discusses. The political points he made were all "big picture" points and I found his repeated hopes for Pakistan made me want to tell him to stop writing and go and do something about it.

  • Daniel Casey
    2019-04-27 21:35

    Full Review: reading The Reluctant Fundamentalist, a novel that gripped me in the same way Albert Camus had (Hamid’s novel is written in a similar 2nd-person style as Camus’s The Fall), I became an admirer of Mohsin Hamid’s fiction. However, I was never fortunate enough to encounter any of his nonfiction writing. Finding Discontent and Its Civilization (a pun on a canonical work by Sigmund Freud that’s still inflicted on first-year college students throughout the United States) was a boon:“We are told to forget the sources of our discontent because something more important is at stake: the fate of civilization.Yet what are these civilizations, these notions of Muslim-ness, Western-ness, European-ness, American-ness, that attempt to describe where, and with whom, we belong? They are illusions: arbitrarily drawn constructs with porous, brittle, and overlapping borders. To what civilization does a Syrian atheist belong? A Muslim soldier in the US army? A Chinese professor in Germany? A lesbian fashion designer in Nigeria? After how many decades of US citizenship does a Spanish-speaking Honduran-born couple, with two generations of American children and grandchildren descended from them, cease to belong to a Latin American civilization and take their place in an American one?Civilizations are illusions, but these illusions are pervasive, dangerous, and powerful. they contribute to globalization’s brutality.”The essays contained are brief but resonant. Divided into three sections (Life, Art, and Politics), the pieces are true journalism rather than mere reportage or the casual hypocrisy of investigative or ‘watch-dog’ media. Appearing in such papers of record as the New York Times and The Guardian as well as a slew of other prominent and intellectually sharp outlets, these essays move away from their topical impetus to occupy a space of lasting import. Hamid articulates not just his own thoughtful distillation as a writer but also a global ethical stance: “Our words for hybridity are so often epithets. They shouldn’t be. Hybridity need not be the problem. It could be the solution. Hybrids do more than embody mixtures between groups. Hybrids reveal the boundaries between groups to be false. And this is vital, for creativity comes from intermingling, from rejecting the lifelessness of purity.”In the opening articles of the ‘Life’ section, hybridity is given a tangible and personal form. It is when he is talking about Pakistan that Hamid’s writing comes the most alive. But I would suspect that this is due in large part to my own lack of knowledge about just what Pakistan is. Hamid’s brief autobiographical accounts of his childhood and adulthood in Pakistan aren’t meant as local color or to present himself as some kind of flimsy native informant. Rather, he it writing to show how the familiar became strange, how what was foreign became natural to him. This is perhaps best shown in Hamid’s relationship to Urdu and English. In the early pages of the collection, he writes about losing his ability to speak Urdu after his family moved away from Pakistan to California. His return to Pakistan as a young adult is one marked by having to re-learn what could be called his native tongue:“I just started picking up Urdu on the go. Eventually I could tell a joke and sing a song in it, flirt and fight, read a story and take an exam. I could speak it with a foreign accent. But my first language would be a second language for me from then on.English fractured for me, too, coming in distinct Californian and Pakistani varieties. (Later, in adulthood, Mid-Atlantic and British English would be added to the mix.)”This perceptual oscillation and adaption is what hybridity is all about, it is what gives it its strength.The ‘Art’ section provides readers familiar with Hamid’s fiction with perhaps the best articulation of his own aesthetic or, at least, one he greatly admires. Discussing the novel Sostiene Pereira (Pereira Maintains in English) by Antonio Tabucchi, we can see how its counterintuitive form has influenced Hamid: “The novel is not a traditional third-person narrative in which Pereira is himself merely a character. Nor is it a traditional first-person narrative in which Pereira tells us the story of his ‘I.’ Instead we have a testimony, with Pereira presumably testifying to an account of his actions transcribed by someone else. The result is mysterious, menacing, enthralling, and mind-bending–all at once.” Anyone who has read The Reluctant Fundamentalist or his most recent novel How to Get Filthy Rich in Asia can see the impact his admiration has had.When he addresses the questions “Are We Too Concerned That Characters be ‘Likeable’?”, “Where Is the Great American Novel by a Woman?”, and “How Do E-books Change the Reading Experience?”, he crafts a counterintuitive responses. To the first, his response is a sort of bemusement. When discussing the topic with is editor he discovers “One of the things readers discussed a great deal, she said, was where characters were likable–nonlikability being, in the minds of many, a serious flaw. How interesting, I thought then. How different from how I read.” To the second, he quickly dismantles the inquiry: “The problem is in the phrase itself. ‘Great’ and ‘Novel’ are fine. But ‘the’ is needlessly exclusionary, and ‘American’ is unfortunately parochial.” While never dismissing the gendered question, he deftly makes asking the question a chauvinistic act speaking “to a deep and abiding insecurity.” And you can hear exhaustion or bother in his tone when he discusses the false dichotomy of electronic and print books, “often I prefer reading to e-reading. Or rather, given that the dominance of paper can no longer be assumed, p-reading to e-.” The entire section feels as though it is meant to present an artistic view point that is actively inclusive rather than doggedly exclusive; Hamid is making choices and owning those choices to make sure his tastes aren’t needlessly mandarin.The middle section ‘Art’ seems the necessary transition to the final section “Politics.” Here as in the first section, Hamid calls upon lived experience. And once again we see that although he is often directly addressing a Pakistani issue, he is making a broader ethical case. This is best seen in the one and a half page essay ‘Fear and Silence’ about Ahmadis persecution in Pakistan. Ahmadis are a sect of Islam, one that gets much less coverage than its Sunni and Shia siblings. Hamid shows us the persecution of this sect embodies the danger inherent in the illusion of civilization.It is not just that Ahmadis are not proper Muslims (whatever esoteric criteria is being applied at the moment to establish this). It is that they are apostates and as such should be victimized. Here Hamid makes it clear that “we are now beyond the realm of personal opinion. We are in the realm of group punishment and incitement to murder. Nor dies it stop here. There is a fourth step. And step for is this: any Muslims who say Ahmadis should not be victimized or killed should themselves be victimized or killed.” Hamid has revealed that the mechanism at work here is the all too common black-or-white fallacy, that someone is either ‘for us or against us’ and that there can never bee any middle ground. His example is Muslims persecuting Muslims, but the rhetoric is the same that Christians use to attack other Christians, that Jews use to attack other Jews, that atheists use on other atheists, that the faithful use on unbelievers, and that unbelievers use on the faithful. No one is immune to the confident and easy stupidity of irrationality, and everyone involved suffers by it.Hamid’s isolates these stages of persecution to highlight that “coerced silence is the weapon that has been sharpened and brought to our throats.” It is a weapon deployed by the faithful and the irreligious alike. It is a weapon of abuse, a whip used to cow any and all who would suggest that thought, belief, or love can be a multiplicity rather than a singularity, “Because if we can be silence when it comes to Ahmadis, then we can be silenced when it comes to Shias, we can be silenced when it comes to women, we can be silenced when it comes to dress, we can be silenced when it comes to entertainment, and we can even be silenced when it comes to sitting by ourselves, alone in a room, afraid to think what we think.”Mohsin Hamid is a writer who uses his life and work to dismantle this weapon, to stand against those who would wield it, and to strive to prevent its inception. This is the ethics of hybridity. Revealing “it is we who create the monolith” and it is we who raze it.

  • Fatma
    2019-05-12 17:43

    DNF at 60%. im just not really feeling this right now.

  • Tawseef Khan
    2019-05-10 01:45

    I have to admit to being disappointed by the collection. Its quite interesting how the way we respond to pieces of work is dependent on the format they appear in. Many of these articles and 'dispatches', I would be quite content to read and consume in a newspaper or literary magazine, but when they appear in this book, with a not insignificant preface, I expect something meatier, more substantial. As it stands, with many of the pieces standing at 5-7 pages long, or even less, they feel insubstantial, weightless and easily ignorable. They have little impact and many facts and themes are often repeated without variation. There are a three or so articles towards the end that are truly fantastic, because they are longer, go into their subject in greater depth, and therefore reach more significant conclusions, but that they are so few is dispiriting. Maybe Hamid isn't to blame, and the book is down to the greed of his publisher, but maybe he could have developed a few more of them?That said, the book has ignited this need within me to connect with Pakistan again, in a different way (as someone, unlike Mohsin, was not born there) and I find that quite exciting.

  • Sara Naveed
    2019-04-22 20:44

    This is the first non-fiction book I've read. I've read Mohsin Hamid's debut fiction novel 'Moth Smoke' previously. Honestly speaking, I couldn't really get into the story back then. There were only a few elements that I enjoyed. 'Discontent and its Civilizations' explains Hamid's real life encounters. He has described how his life has changed while travelling from Lahore to NY, London and then back to Lahore. During this journey, Hamid has seen immense changes in his own perspective and personality. He has pin pointed real life incidents in this book and have told how Islam has changed post 9/11. He has portrayed the real elements of Islamization in the Western side of the world. More or less, he has tried to present the real image of Islam. Politics, Pakistan-India relationship, U.S Drone Attacks have been thoughtfully explained in this book. He has openly said that Islam is not a monolith. Hamid also shares his stories regarding fiction, books, movies and titbits of his marriage life and also discussed some of the phases of fatherhood. Certainly, Hamid's writing style is quite sophisticated, knowledgeable and mature.

  • Cheyla
    2019-05-03 21:26

    I picked this book up accidentally while meandering through an unfamiliar section of Barnes and Nobles. I'm really glad I did. Reading the introductory essay persuaded me to buy the book and every essay impressed me in some manner. Hamid writes with a fluid, dynamic tone; his writing is full of humanity and character and his stories and opinions kept me engaged despite my novice understanding of political relationships in the East. I happen to wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments voiced in his essays. I couldn't help from feeling profound solidarity with this author despite our difference in circumstance and experience. I wrote down quite a few quotes from various passages; this is one of my favorites:"Civilizations are illusory. But they are useful illusions. They allow us to deny our common humanity, to allocate power, resources, and rights in ways repugnantly discriminatory."I highly recommend this book. You'll want to suspend your preconceptions on Pakistan and its diverse cultures- but Hamid makes this exceedingly easy, so no worries.

  • Ashish
    2019-04-19 23:43

    This book is a must read for anyone who is a fan of Hamid or his books. Ever since I read Moth Smoke (his first book), I felt some sort of connection with the author and his characters. The book is a collection of articles and writings of Hamid which have been published over the period of late 90's to the 00's, and when read together act like a biography of the author and his observations about religion, geo-politics, fatherhood, and everything else under the sun. The individual chapters are short and fluid, and I really enjoyed reading them. It made for a pretty brisk read. Hamid also manages to focus on the problems facing contemporary Pakistan and the reasons and historical events which made the country what it is. He doesn't resort to pandering or blatant finger-pointing and manages to give a view that we in India often tend to miss when it comes to Indo-Pak relations. There is a conscious lack of rhetoric in his views and provide a fairly balanced, and sometimes simplistic view of things.

  • Meghan
    2019-05-08 00:39

    This was a serendipitous buy at my favorite local bookstore (Three Lives & Co). It's unusually interactive and endearing. I spent the first portion wishing I could mark it up with a red pen and send it back to Mr. Hamid with my edits. But oh, the starbursts of exquisite writing. The insights, the empathy. I began to feel like I knew Mohsin and was engaged in a long conversation with him. Then... the chapter on politics. I think he knew exactly what he was doing by first plying my heart open and then dropping in these last few (incongruous but powerful) essays. Very interesting and unusual structure overall. Glad I read it, and glad to know Mohsin Hamid a little better.

  • Laura
    2019-04-22 21:21

    From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the Week:Collected essays that encompass memoir, art and politics.

  • Wsm
    2019-05-11 18:35

    This is a collection of Mohsin Hamid's writing on diverse subjects.He is a gifted and inventive writer.Some of the pieces collected here are very interesting,others less so.As one who has lived his life in Lahore,London and New York,the theme of displacement recurs in his work.In some of these despatches,he tries to explain Pakistan to an international audience.The more engaging part of the book for me has to do with his own multicultural experiences,his life and his musings on pop culture.

  • Joachim Stoop
    2019-05-08 18:44


  • Sunny
    2019-04-29 17:21

    Obviously not as good as some of his fictional stuff but this was interesting in places and some of the essays were close to the heart in that mine and Mohsin’s backgrounds are quite similar. Both Muslim, similar (ish age), Mohsin was a management consultant, I still am, both born in Lahore, and lived in London. I like his style of writing and this is a short book which serves as a collection of some of his essays he has written on various subjects. Here are a few of the interesting points he makes:• Sufis talk about the path to transcendence, one is to look out at the universe and see yourself, one is to look into yourself and see the entire universe. • Mohsin talks about Pakistan which is a country that is close to his heart (probably more so than mine as I seem to have given up on it) he hasn’t and believes that an independent judicial system, thousands literally thousands of graduates pouring out of its universities, elected assemblies and free media are some of the foundational elements that the country needs to revolutionise its thinking and bring about the change that the country desperately needs – this needs to be bought about by a demand for a change in behaviours of leading politicians and leaders in general throughout all echelons of the country but the drive has to come from the roots upwards not top down. My challenge to that and I’m sure other philosophers have said it in a similar way and it’s that to change ones thinking you can’t approach the problem with the same philosophy of thinking that have u those problems let alone the same medium or mode. Like Nietzsche’s Zarathustra we need time to step back and truly think before we can come back to address the problem from greater heights or deeper depths as in this case if it’s a grass roots revolution. Some of the other essays he writes about are: art and other Pakistans, international relations, on fatherhood, avatar in Lahore, personal and political intertwined, my reluctant fundamentalist, get fit with Haruki Murakami, where is the great American novel by a woman, how do e-books change the reading experience, after 60 years will Pakistan be reborn, uniting Pakistan’s minority and majority, Osama bin Laden’s death, nationalism should retire at 65, to fight India we fight ourselves, why drones don’t help and Islam is not a monolith.

  • Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
    2019-04-20 21:30

    Mohsin Hamid is a novelist, and he also writes a lot of nonfiction in the form of essays and articles for a wide range of publications such as The New York Times, the Guardian, literary journals, and Pakistani magazines. The essays in Discontent and its Civilizations (a clever play on the title of a classic by Freud) are from the years 2000-2014 and cover Hamid's time as a resident of New York, London, and Lahore, Pakistan.It's a compact volume of pieces, only about 200 pages, and the essays themselves are each only a few pages long. In general they are concise and elegant, a pleasure to read. I enjoyed the articles about family and everyday life, and found those about writing and reading thoughtful. In the last third of the book, the essays became weighted with Pakistani politics and discussions of religion.As a man born in Pakistan, who spent his childhood in California, his teens in Pakistan, and his young adulthood in New York and London, Hamid has a pretty interesting outlook on world affairs. As I read his essay about re-entering the United States and having to go through rigorous extra questioning yet again, I did a double take when I got to the end and found it had been written in the year 2000. Despite appreciating Hamid's persuasive writing on other topics, I still could not quite fathom how he decided, when his wife told him that she was pregnant, that they should now move from their cozy home in London to Pakistan. He went on to describe daily power outages, undrinkable tap water, increasing civil unrest near his upper middle class home in Lahore. On the other hand his young daughter was now close to grandparents and cousins, aunts and uncles. A nice collection of essays on topics close to home and quite distant.

  • Privy Trifles
    2019-04-25 20:28

    Having read the first two works of the author he is one on my can-be-grabbed-without-reading-the-blurb category! But the moment I saw this one I knew I wanted to read this for it had dispatches from Lahore, New York and London three cities I have always been fascinated with for the distinct lives they hold within their realms.I began reading this book without any pre-conceived notions or ideas as I wanted to just bask in his words and ideologies. I didn’t want my own thoughts to overlap his and create a huge mishmash killing the charm of reading such a wonderful book. And am glad I did that. It surely made the whole process of reading very enriching.Read whole review here:

  • Magdelanye
    2019-04-24 17:28

    Globalization is a brutal phenomenon. It brings us mass displacement, wars, terrorism, unchecked financial capitalism, inequality, xenophobia, climate change. p2But in the end, it is not possible to champion national greatness and human equality at the same time. p141The message is clear. Speaking out against the problem means you become the problem, so you had better be quiet. p145I am glad that MH refuses to be quiet and look forward to his next effort.

  • Lillian
    2019-05-06 20:31

    "At this point in our technological evolution, to read a novel is to engage in probably the second-largest single act of pleasure-based data transfer that can take place between two human beings, exceeded only by sex. Novels are characterized by their intimacy, which is extreme, by their scale, which is vast, and by their form, which is linguistic and synesthetic. The novel is a kinky beast."

  • Ali
    2019-05-18 20:23

    Globalization is a brutal phenomenon. It brings us mass displacement, wars, terrorism, unchecked financial capitalism, inequality, xenophobia, climate change. But if globalization is capable of holding out any fundamental promise to us, any temptation to go along with its havoc, then surely that promise ought to be this: we will be more free to invent ourselves

  • Simon Sweetman
    2019-05-06 22:20

    Some great writing here - nice, breif essays, good range of topics (broad). Some good talking/thinking points. Recommended.

  • Peebee
    2019-05-02 20:30

    Of the male authors I have discovered in the last several years, I think Mohsin Hamid may be my favorite. Exit West is probably my favorite book of the year, especially among those which will contend for the major literary awards. So when I saw this book crop up in a list of ebooks available for checkout, I had to read it. I had much more of an interest in the Life and Art sections, compared to the Politics chapters, but all were excellent. It's a quick read and if you love Hamid already, then it should be an easy sell. If you haven't read Hamid yet, then what are you waiting for?

  • Alper Çuğun
    2019-05-07 00:44

    I actually enjoyed Hamid's essays about his life much more than those about either art or politics and I wish there had been more of those. The essays are well written but not earth shattering and mostly very dated.One thing the book has done for me is to rehabilitate Pakistan as a country. Hamid's enduring love and ongoing laments for the country, its politics and its prospects are not exactly contagious but they do evoke something of hope and empathy.

  • Afshan Ejaz
    2019-05-12 22:27

    Everything you need to know about politics- on individual and collective level.. also, this book provides some deep insights on being present on the face of the earth and how to cope with that presence .besides, the thinking doesn't change if you are in a developing city or in a developed one.

  • Christian Quaresma
    2019-05-06 20:46

    In his collection of essays, Discontent and Its Civilizations, Mohsin Hamid presents himself primarily as a moralist. The book is carefully curated by the author to invite you into his life, his practice, and his pluralistic and humane worldview.Hamid is focused on his native Pakistan, looking at the young country and its relation to the world from New York, London and Lahore, having called all three places home in the fifteen years that span this collection. He begins with an anecdote about a monk, recently an Olympic sprinter, who tells him meaningfully that “invention is a blessing” and ends with a warning against the creation of monoliths—singular structures that blind us from the diversity that surrounds them.Hamid champions the creative and compassionate aspects of humanity through recollections of his own path to becoming a celebrated author and by sharing the experiences of a people struggling against small-minded, xenophobic and nationalistic persecution that ultimately hinders growth. In response, he is inclusive.This book does not present the views of a blind optimist, but a determined idealist with strong convictions for realizing a global society that he can proudly share with his daughter. He approaches the subject of his vexation tactfully. Dividing the book into three sections, Life, Art, and Politics, he pulls us into his world slowly, first establishing his good character, which seems incredibly important to Hamid. It is not for the sake of making him likeable, that familiar desire we read in many novelists and writers, but to bring you to the purpose Hamid integrates into his personal essays on writing, growing up, and experiencing life as a cosmopolitan citizen of colour.Throughout there is a Rilkean desire to see the reader change. The stories are easy to digest, almost deceptively so, with Hamid’s skill as a storyteller blending topics about getting high at concerts to the Obama administration’s drone campaign to combatting natural disaster. They are individual pieces, but ride on the same wave of Hamid’s critical and generous prose. His tone is bright, clear, and inviting:“We’re out here. Waiting for you. Foreigners. Freaks, every last one. Your laws call us aliens. But you know better. You’ve grappled with the freakiness within. You’re part of us. And we of you.”The collection grows heavier toward the last third with the section Politics. At this point, Hamid trusts that we have been given a more accurate view of his home. If he has done this right, we will listen to his words with less of the rhetoric of the post-9/11 Western media in mind. His advice is often directed at Pakistanis, but can apply universally (a common theme in the book).For a collection that maps personal and international changes over the course of fifteen years-an internationally fraught fifteen years- Hamid’s writing in both quality and purpose is remarkably consistent. He walks through a hostile world where alien drones regularly strike people down, where family members turn on each other, and extremists tear themselves apart violently to inflict damage not only on human beings, but on their beliefs, and through this he extends a hand, offering alternatives with diplomacy and kindness.This book is all too quotable and with a breadth that rewards both casual and intimate reading. In other words, there is something for everyone, but it is especially valuable to those who are discontent with the one-dimensionality of perspective on global affairs that we often see, and the artificial barriers that divide the world into “us and them”.

  • Pragya
    2019-04-29 20:25

    Read more reviews Reviewing Shelf.To tell the truth, the only reason I picked up this book in the first place was because the author was famous for having written The Reluctant Fundamentalist which went on to become a major motion picture. Otherwise, a book with a title like that would have been easily glossed over.The book has been divided by essays into three parts - Life, Art and Politics. It's difficult to choose which part I liked the most. But yes, I found the first two parts more easy to read and interesting while the final one was heavy and dry on the palate.I liked the way the essays have been structured. It starts with giving us a glimpse into the author's life which makes it easier to appreciate what comes later on. We see the world through his eyes and experiences and it lends itself a different voice than the world might see from their side of the spider's web.The author's journey through his career changes, his personal life and travel within the three countries makes for an interesting narrative. In seeing the world-view through his eyes, one finds oneself wondering at the objectivity and its absence in all things meaningful.The essays in the Art section also made for a gripping read. With my interest in all things related to books, I could identify where the author was coming from. His essays about rereading books, likeable characters, Murakami, great American novel and the change of reading experience through ebooks found a resonance within me. They made for a page turning read.Let me now talk about the Politics section. Frankly, I have zero knowledge and/or interest in politics. But every so often, with the help of books like these, I try to keep myself abreast of the goings-on in the world. And that's precisely where this section stepped in. The essays give a plethora of events to think about, to reflect upon. Looking at the drones and war from an insider's perspective lends it an air of honesty and raw brutalism that makes one shudder. It's easy to read about it in the news than to hear someone who has been through it and knows the ins and outs. It would be easier to side with the US on its drones and air strikes when its labelled as a fight with terrorism but when you hear it from the horse's mouth do you realise it carries within it so much more than just that. The essays give a refreshing albeit heart rending stance to the whole situation. Frankly, it was difficult to go through it. It was unsettling and as is easier, one tends to pass by what is uncomfortable or evokes disturbing emotions. But I needed to know the bird's eye view of things and not just what the newspapers tell me and hence I read it, every single word of it. It didn't help settle my perturbed emotions but surely helped me realize that one can never see the panorama from just one side. And now that I have touched on the philosophical, let me give it a rest. And you go read the book.Highly influential and well-written. Would definitely be trying the author again.